Books: Your Language Teaching Best-Friend
Are you looking for an activity or resource that will promote your child’s language abilities? You’re in luck! Children’s books are a fantastic, quickly accessible tool for targeting and enriching a variety of language skills. Including daily book sharing in your child’s routine creates opportunities for boosting language comprehension and increasing language expression.
Language comprehension refers to the language that your child is understanding. Picture books often include new vocabulary and basic concepts within context and with ongoing visuals. If your child is an early language-learner, books with repetition allow for your child to engage with the story and cement the sentence’s structure to memory. Incorporating books with concepts such as prepositions, colors, or opposites can help your child develop understanding of these fundamental language components. If your child is a later-language learner, discussing the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary can increase your child’s ability to use context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words. Books also allow for an engaging opportunity to build comprehension of a variety of Wh-questions (who, what, when, where, why), practice perspective taking, and develop inferencing skills. Engaging in conversations about the story’s plot can help your child increase language comprehension both within and beyond books.
Language expression refers to the language your child is using to express their message. Books allow for exposure to complex sentences and robust vocabulary. This in return supplements your child’s ability to incorporate the same language into their expression. Allow your child to retell the story or describe the pictures to increase and support language expression.
- More than the author’s words: Use the book’s illustrations to target skills beyond the book’s written words and give your child the opportunity to share their observations.
- Animation: Read with bold facial expressions and an exaggerated tone of voice to keep your child engaged and increase their retention of the story.
- Repetition is key: Read the same book several times! The repeated exposure solidifies your child’s understanding of the story.
- Create manipulatives: Including manipulatives, such as items to represent the characters in the story, allows for a fun opportunity for your child to retell the story. This can be as simple as a finger puppet or as complex as an art project.
- Include surprises: Books with flaps to open can keep your child engaged and allow practice with a variety of language skills.
- Act it out: Story retell is a valuable opportunity for your child to demonstrate and build both language comprehension and expression! Make it fun by pretending to be characters and reenacting the story.
- Incorporate wordless books: Wordless books are great for children with reading or decoding skills, but limited comprehension skills. This allows for independent generation of the story and a fun opportunity for creativity.
- Monitor the questions: It can be tempting to ask questions throughout the story, but limit the questions and practice teaching language through comments. Reading should remain fun and should not feel like a quiz.
- Have fun! Reading creates time for you and your child to discover and celebrate stories. Enjoy it!